Peter Gade has long fought Chinese domination in world badminton. The Danish veteran sees the same fire in India's teen star Saina Nehwal and says she is the best thing that has happened to the sport in a long time.
Gade, at 32, is ranked third in the world. He knows he is not getting
any younger but is determined to continue as he feels badminton needs non-Chinese players like him to stay at the top. And when someone like Saina fearlessly takes on the Chinese challenge, Gade has all the reason to believe that he has been successful in showing youngsters the way.
"Saina is a very good player and she deserves all the compliments. It's good for the game that Saina has come up and is giving a fight to the Chinese dominance. In fact, she is better then some of the Chinese players," said Gade, a former All England Champion, on the sidelines of he World Badminton Championships on Monday.
"She is just 19 and has age on her side. I hope the media does not get carried away and puts too much pressure on her. She has a long way to go and if she remains injury free, she has a bright future."
Gade's compatriot Tine Rasmussen is another player who has been able to climb her way up among the Chinese.
"She (Rasmussen) is an excellent player and I hope she does well here. But there are not many like them in my country. The government needs to provide more support to the sport," said Gade, who opened his campaign with a 21-11, 21-16 win over Ukraine's Valerily Atrashchenkov.
"I am happy that they are right there among the Chinese players. Something that I have done over the years and one of the reasons that I still play the game. Its very important for other players to come up. The sport will only gain from it.
"You should have the self belief to play the Chinese. They are mentally very strong, but it is not difficult. Look I have done that for years. I was the world No. 1 for four years."
Gade says he might not have the same agility as China's Lin Dan or Malaysian Chong Lee Wei, but insists that on his day he is capable of giving them a run for their money.
"I know I will lose to them more often. I beat Chong Wei and won the Korean Open this year. I know on my day I can beat them."
"I love the sport and I want to continue as long as I can. I am happy that I am able to beat the top players even at this age. This is the motivation for me. At the moment, I think I can carry on till the World Championships next year."
When asked whether the World Championships has lost some shine after it became an annual event, Gade said: "I don't think so. It is still an elite event with all the top players participating. It is true that there are too many tournaments happening now but World Championship is still a big tournament."